Thursday February 7,2013 : JOCKEY CLUB GETS ITS WAY IN HONG KONG
Six years of lobbying pays off
The Home Affairs Bureau in Hong Kong this week approved the two-way combining of betting pools with foreign jurisdictions, allowing overseas punters access to the larger and more attractive pools in the former British colony.
The system, known as commingling, would mean a boost of HK$200 million a year in revenue for the government on top of more than HK$10 billion it currently receives in duty from the Jockey Club, according to Hong Kong press assessments.
Racing punters in Australia, for example, can at present watch and bet on Hong Kong races, but their money goes into a small Australian pool. Under a commingling agreement, Aussie betting operators would send those bets to the much larger and more attractive pools in Hong Kong or other jurisdictions.
The Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill will be put to the Legislative Council in Q2-2013, with an implementation target calculated to start in time for the 2013-14 racing season in September.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has been lobbying for the change for the past six years, and expects that the new arrangement will at least double the revenues it receives as part of its 3 percent fee on holdings, currently worth between HK3 andHK4 million dollars.
To facilitate outbound commingling, the government has accepted the Jockey Club's proposal to apply a flat betting rate at 72.5 percent on receipts of local bets on non-local races.
"Commingling has become an internationally adopted industry practice that enables regulated operators to work together to counter the threats posed by illegal bookmakers and junket operators," said Jockey Club spokesperson Carmen Lok Wai-man.